IC Bus has developed a gasoline version of its Type C school bus, the OEM announced on Monday.
The gasoline-powered CE school bus will utilize the Power Solutions International 8.8L V8 gasoline engine paired with commercial-grade transmissions. The bus uses much of the same technology and spark-ignited engine architecture as IC Bus’ propane-powered CE model, similarly avoiding the complex emissions aftertreatment system of a diesel bus.
According to IC Bus, the new gasoline model is designed to make ownership more affordable and to provide easier maintenance for school districts and contractors.
Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus, told SBF in an interview that when she started in her position in August 2014, one of the first things she heard customers ask for was a gasoline engine option. Reed said that some of the key reasons behind that request are the increase in complexity of diesel powertrains, the wider availability of technicians who can work on gasoline engines, and the expectation of better starting in harsh winters with a gasoline bus compared to a diesel.
“We’ve listened to our dealers and customers, and they are asking for powertrain options that can deliver the same safety, reliability, and durability as with our entire product lineup,” Reed said. Diesel has long dominated the large school bus market, but Reed said that IC Bus sees a big shift over the next four years. The OEM is forecasting that by 2020, diesel will decrease to about 60% to 65% of the Type C and D school bus market (down from about 92% in 2015), with gasoline, propane, and compressed natural gas accounting for about 35% to 40%.
"Bus fleets are continuing to shift away from diesel in order to provide long-term savings for schools and a cleaner environment for the future," said Gary Winemaster, chairman and CEO of Power Solutions International. "As part of this shift, gasoline has become the 'third alternative fuel.'"
Still, IC Bus will expand its diesel engine offerings over the next two years with the addition of the Cummins L9 and B6.7 engines for the RE series school bus.
Reed said that full-scale production of the gasoline CE school bus will be announced at a later date. Meanwhile, IC Bus will demonstrate the new model on Tuesday and Wednesday at the STN Expo in Reno, Nevada.
Reed said that customers who drive the gasoline CE will likely notice similar power and torque curve compared to a diesel engine, but with quieter operation.
“Our goal was to make it feel and perform like the Cummins ISB,” Reed said. “They just won’t have the noise that goes with it.”
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